For generations we have travelled, seeking a better life and a kinder climate, for adventure, discovery and exploration, to pioneer the sciences, and as missionaries. Some through choice some by force, but whatever reason it was often complex, and often beyond their control. This was undoubtedly the case in Skye and Lochalsh, whose remoteness, harsh climate, rebellious clan structure and turbulent economy was not in their favour. They left for many different reasons at many different times and their departure often heart rending.
Following the Jacobite uprising and their defeat at Culloden in 1746, the political, social and economic circumstances changed significantly. Attempts were made to crush the clan system and forceful power of the hereditary clan chiefs. Agricultural reform brought changes to the traditional methods and sheep were favoured over the traditional cattle. Croft land was no longer community shared and ownership by clan chiefs became the model. They in turn became distanced from kinsfolk as money become more important than clan system and the proud kinsfolk who fought their battles. Rent rose and people began to leave voluntarily for better lives in America. As the fertile land was cleared for the black face sheep, movement of entire communities became commonplace. Some were displaced to coastal regions in pursuit of herring fisheries. There, new industries developed in the production of potash from seaweed, and products like glass and soap. For a while communities thrived on these industries and landlords were happy. With communities settled and successful, populations rose. The explosion was so great however, that the coastal land could not sustain these populations, crops failed. Once again they were on the move, contracted for road building, some to Highland regiments and others by force through eviction and emigration.
The Highland and Island clan population became dislocated world wide. Close-knit communities were flung to all corners of the world and these enterprising emigrants and their families who left the shores of Skye and Lochalsh, often made remarkable lives abroad. Extended families followed later in assisted emigration schemes, which continued right up the 1960's. Fiercely loyal to their Scottish ancestry, their culture and traditions are held, some might say more passionately, than those remaining in Scotland. Wherever there are Scottish emigrants you'll find Burns Suppers, St. Andrews day, pipe band festivals, clan societies and Caledonia Societies. Homeland and ancestry is of immense importance to these children of Scotland who are proud of their heritage, family trees and clan roots.